Securitization theory, as introduced by the Copenhagen school, offers a discursive understanding of national and international security. This theory has challenged realist notions of security, as it offers a broader definition of the term by including non-military issues. Instead of focusing solely on what constitutes a threat, securitization theory analyses how and when a threat is narrated and successfully perceived by a public. Security may thus also be referenced in a metaphorical way, which is usually done to promote a sense of urgency. One specific area that has been increasingly securitized is cyberspace, as it has been introduced to the concept of cyber security. As the scope of cyber security has increased, this has included the topic of data privacy. Perceptions on data privacy have become increasingly negative, and trust in online platforms has diminished. Public concern continues to rise on the matter, and governments seem to struggle with the question of how to re-build trust in cyberspace. A promising solution seems to be offered by the European Union, who, in May 2018, enforced the General Data Protection Regulation that sets out to protect the data privacy of all EU citizens. This regulation allows for the testing of the notion that data privacy as a policy area has been influenced by a securitization process. This research has explored the considerations that shaped the General Data Protection Regulation, including the assumption that a securitization process may have taken place. This has been done by analysing documents and sessions from the three main institutions of the EU using the method of critical discourse analysis. A preliminary analysis found four main discourses used in the EU’s narrative on data protection, namely discourses on unity, fundamental rights, security, and the economy. Each institution yielded different results on the presence and dominance of these discourses in their use of language, though some main considerations were found present in each one including, for example, the strong economic motive. The analysis also found evidence of a securitization process, as both implicit and explicit references were made. As the field of the securitization of data privacy is relatively understudied, this research should inspire the further exploration of developments in the field. This is especially encouraged as the role of data in society is likely to vastly increase in the near future.

Additional Metadata
Thesis Advisor Dr. S. Grand, Dr. K. Stapelbroek
Persistent URL
Series Public Administration
Miedema, Margriet. (2020, February 18). Narratives of the General Data Protection Regulation: Fostering Trust in the Digital Economy. Public Administration. Retrieved from